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Problem Solving

Inventing New Products

(An excerpt from the e-book/course How To Have New Ideas.)

Identifying true needs is a great route to new products.

Have you ever been frustrated with the assembly instructions for something you bought? Or annoyed with the design of something? Good news! Every frustration can be the source of new ideas. A service that creates clear assembly and instruction manuals might make good money, for example.

Hey, it's fun to dream up a hundred new ideas. It's even good exercise for the brain. Sometimes, though, that's all you get. It may be fun to imagine an inflatable helium chair that lets you float above your home, but can you sell it?

Starting with True Needs

Starting with common and easy-to-understand problems is the surest way to have useful ideas. If you and six of your friends all have a similar complaint about something, there is a true need for a new idea there. If you run into the same frustration several times, it's time for a solution, right?

For good ideas that solve real problems, look at what annoys you, frustrates you, gets in your way, or is difficult. Ask other people what issues they have too. If half of your older friends complain about stairs in their houses, it's time for a single floor housing development.

I like to demonstrate these techniques with real examples. I also like to do it as I write, so I can be sure that it works as easily as I say. In this case, I'm going to think of several annoyances or "issues" I've had in the last few days, and use them to come up with new ideas.

Okay, it took me three minutes to come up with the following annoyances. I'll spend a minute or two on each, to see what ideas they stimulate.

Delicate clothes. I want to throw everything in the washer, and then in the dryer. I dislike digging through to see what can't be washed in hot water, and what can't be put in the dryer. Hmm... If there was a store, let's call it "The Simple Life Store," that sold only clothes that could handle any type of washing and drying, I'd shop there.

Forgetting to use what I know. I know how to reduce stress, but I forget to use the techniques. I even forget to use the memory techniques I know! Hmm... Would people pay for a twice weekly call from a "life coach?" You explain beforehand what your goals are, and they call to see if you are on track, to remind you, and encourage you. Fifteen minutes, $30?

Uncertain car costs. There are a few things that may be going wrong with my car. The main stress, though, is from the uncertainty. No problem for months, and then $400 in brake work out of the blue. Arrgh! Maybe a mechanic could have a set fee-per-mile for any and all maintenance and repair. Once you sign the contract, you know what your cost will be.

Lack of space. We have a fairly small apartment. Somebody could market a line of furniture that doubles as storage space. Couches, chairs - even tables might be designed to provide interior storage space, and still be attractive. A table than folds up into the wall when we're done eating might be nice too.

Of course, once you identify the problems to be solved, you can combine any of the various problem solving techniques to generate ideas for new products or services. You can also use them one by one, to get as many different...

Continued in the e-book/course How To Have New Ideas.

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